Who's going to defend the Arctic?

Posted by jamess — 18 January 2011 at 5:43pm - Comments
Oil companies are taking their drills to the Arctic
All rights reserved. Credit: Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace
Oil companies are taking their drills to the Arctic

The masters at Marvel comics would struggle to find bad guys worse than these.

Take two of the world’s biggest environmental villains – Russian Rosneft (special powers: oil leaks. 7,526 in 2009 alone) and British BP (special powers: oil spills. Gulf of Mexico, 2010).

Fuse them together in the lab sprinkled with a ministerial handshake here (from a climate secretary!) and a tax-break there (from a Russian super-politician) and the hybrid monster is almost complete. All they need now is a target.

Well on Friday evening, that was announced: BP and Rosneft are setting their drill sights on the Arctic.

At first glance, it’s no contest: surely the powers of the ancient Arctic are epic compared with the puny upstarts of BP and Rosneft.

For starters, the Arctic cools the entire planet by reflecting sunlight off its ice, some of which is thousands of years old. The Arctic plays a vital role, not only in being home to endangered polar bears, whales, seals, narwhals and other species, but also in providing the earth with a stable climate. This in turn helps give us our delicate balanced ecosystems that we need to sustain many species, including ourselves.

In short the Arctic’s special power is: life giver.

But despite these huge strengths the Arctic suffers one gaping vulnerability: it has no defences.

There is no army to protect the Arctic frontier, there is no board of shareholders to shield its assets. Not Jack Frost, Iceman or Ymir to lend a hand. The Arctic is in a very real sense, open to exploitation.

And BP and Rosneft are striving to be its number one exploiters.

In our oil-hungry world, we’re having to go deeper and further to find more fuel to feed our addiction. Rather than choose more efficient technologies and cleaner alternatives, companies like BP and Rosneft and their allies across big carbon industries are doing their best to convince us that we don’t need to change.

They want to keep driving our oil consumption in whatever way they can. If that means siding together with the car lobby to prevent more efficient vehicles they will. If it means pressuring politicians for fossil fuel subsidies they’ll do it. If it means expanding airports and keeping airline fuel tax-free they’ll make sure it happens.

Because BP, Rosneft and the rest of big oil know that while they rake in the money at the production end, it’s those of us at the consumption end that are driving the industry. We are a key part of that chain. Ultimately, we write their cheques.

But there’s a kink in that chain. As news showed this week, graduates are choosing jobs in renewables over those in the oil industry. We’re beginning to realise that the smart future is in clean, green energy that protects and celebrates our planet, not in oil and fossil fuels that are choking the earth and driving up global temperatures.

 As this chorus for a green future gets louder, the oil industry is more desperate to chase the oil while it still can, in riskier and more fragile environments: deeper water, tar sands and now the Arctic.

And this is where we return to the comic book analogy. For while the Arctic with its immense life-giving and sustaining powers appears defenceless to the invasion of big oil, it is not entirely without hope.

There are billions of individuals – tiny and seemingly insignificant - who at first glance are just another digit on the oil industry’s balance sheet, with no special powers at all. They spend most of their time spectating, commenting on the events around them, passive observers to events they persuade themselves they cannot affect.

But on occasion, at points in their history, their background humming changes into something more distinct: cries of outrage coupled with the realisation of collective power. It’s at times like this that corrupt regimes crumble, corporate crimes get challenged and those that have no voice finally get heard.

This story of the Arctic hinges on whether this will be one of those moments, when those individuals who normally sit back and watch the world go by stand up and take action.

That’s the only power that can stop the drills from heading up into the ice.

You’re the Arctic’s only hope.

Join the Greenpeace activist network to take action for the Arctic in 2011. It’s going to be a busy year.

This is the BIG one!

If Big Oil is allowed to get even a small foothold in the Arctic, irreparable damage will be inflicted on our precious Planet. BP & co have already slowed down the Gulf Stream that, along with the Jet stream, is a very important natural necessity for our survival. That is on top of previously poisoning the very Air we, and future generations, have to breath to stay alive.

The proposed Arctic exploration must be STOPPED, whatever it takes.

I believe we must start looking to International Courts, and make a huge Legal Challenge against this latest proposed atrocity.

You have the Lawyers, experts and scientists available to provide enough conflicting evidence to enable you to begin issuing writs and injunctions against the greedy cooperates? Put the whole case into the hands of a few high placed untouchable Judges, and I am confident that, as Morality is the basis of all Law, they could possibly find in favour....

The arctic does have somebody there to protect it; the activists like the ones here at Greenpeace do extreamely valuable work to prevent further irreversable damage to the arctic. As for the holding back of alternative fuel vehicles, the UK it presently pushing a project (called "plugged in places") to increase the avaliability of electric vehicle infrastructure across the UK; it's not much, but its a start.

@Robert Latimer

I agree with you 100% on this one. The benefits to the ordinary person that are offered by the oil industry is far to overpowered by the negatives and cannot be justified anymore. I really don't see why the oil companies explore less risky forms of energy generation, unless you factor in blind greed on the part of the company and their shareholders, it makes no sense to me.

Well, I have had work experience at BP, and I can say that they can provide the energy and oil that we (UK and Europe) need. At the present time, there is high consumption of energy in Europe, and a sudden lack of power could be damaging to many economies and people. I think it’s about time that BP searches for oil in the Arctic, as the North Sea (the UK's primary oil supply) is depleting rapidly. No nation can become sustainable over night and they need to be supplied with oil and energy at the present. I hope BP and Rosneft are successful and find lots of Oil and Natural Gas in the Arctic, as these fossil fuels are much cleaner than coal. Rising economies such as China have far more responsibility for the enhanced greenhouse effect, and they are rumoured to be opening a new coal fired power station every week (although I think its closer to one a month). The Deepwater Horizon incident was not only BP's fault and it has taught them to take care with the environment. Those who I encountered during my time at BP were working to protect the wildlife, such as turtles around the Gulf of Mexico) etc. I do not like damage to the environment and the fact that one of the world’s leading oil companies has such a keen interest in conserving it can only be good. Finally, why isn’t Greenpeace taking more of a stand against Shell in Nigeria, who has been responsible for hundreds of major oil spills in the past 50 years, each one as bad or worse than the Gulf of Mexico... It is not only American fishermen who lose their industry as many Nigerian fishers in the Nigerian delta have suffered this for decades.

we need the rainbow warrior sailing as soon as possible. lovethesea. madrid. spain.

Thanks for your comments, completely agree with you @nicholas and @connelly (@pedro, we're trying our best to get the rainbow warrior 3 on the seas --> http://greenpeace.org.uk/rainbow-warrior)

@UK Resident, nobody is arguing that coal is better than oil. Both are bad regressive fossil fuels that are driving up CO2 emissions and accelerating climate change. Do you honestly think that BP is protecting the environment by taking risky drilling to the pristine Arctic? As for Shell and Nigeria, Greenpeace has a long history of challenging Shell and its activities there (e.g. http://archive.greenpeace.org/comms/ken/murder.html) but like many campaigning organisations our resources are limited, so we have to be selective with our campaigns. If you think we should be doing more, then please help us to do so: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/donate

Thanks again for the comments,


The Arctic is a very fragile enviroment. If there was to be an other huge oil spill like that in the gulf then the enviromental damage to the area would mean extinction to many of the creatures that live there including krill the main food source for humpback whales. Also it would huge problem to other migrateing animals that depend on the Arctic. Rosneft and bp need to think carefully about the damage they will cause if they go ahead with the drilling.

Lol, Global Warming FTW!

i fink dat global warmin doesnt exits cos if it did it wud have happend by now

thumbs up if u agree

Many people seem to think that 'Climate Change' and 'local climate fluctuation on a season by season basis' are one and the same thing. - They are not. 'Local climate fluctuation' is about what happened in yours or my back yard last week 'Climate Change', as evidenced by the melting of the Arctic Ocean etc, is about average global temperature - the average temperature of the planet - lock stock and barrel - over millions of years.. The average temperature of each of the planets in the solar system has steadily risen since its origin - absorbing energy from the sun - all except for planet Earth. - For the last 400 million years, the Earth's average temperature has remained stable in comparison - this because the atmosphere created by the interaction of life and the Earth itself, has acted as a temperatue regulator. - So life has been able to survive. - Think ice box - thermos flask - or bag of chips wrapped in newspaper. - We are not talking about weather here. Over the last 100yrs, the average planet temperature has begun to rise, - The obvious link is industrial pollution. If it continues to rise, no-one knows when it might stop rising or how long it might take before it reaches a temperature unfit for life. The balance is fine and no-one knows the tipping point. It might be that China can operate coalfired powerplants for a hundred years, so that we can buy cheap products we don't really need, and still not tip the balance. - On the other hand it might be that the gallon of petrol I burn in my car tomorrow is the straw that breaks the camel's back. If we do not work towards finding a way of life that shuns wastage of resources - where people walk again for instance -when we replace our shoes only when they have holes in them and not just becuase they are out of fashion - until then we each risk everyday burning that last ounce of oil or gas or whatever - that is the last straw. Whilst people think that one short cold winter in their own back yard signifies that global warming is a myth - and fail to understand that the subject is not about last weeks weather - we are failing to get the message across. Maybe we are using the wrong words. The Average Temperature of the Planet has risen 3 degrees or so in the last 100yrs it has not done that before in the last 300,000yrs. 'Climate Change' seems only to make for confusion. - Global Warming' seems little better. - Can anyone think of a new catchphrase to make the message clear?

I applaud you for this article!

There are not many people who will tackle any oil company other than the ones who are based in the United States. In fact, other countries are allowed to drill on our turf or should I say our waters but yet nobody else says anything.

The Arctic should always be off limits!




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Thanks for visiting - I hope this patch helps! Many more comments can be viewed at digg. Please rate this article - thanks!

I am very happy that Greenpeace is finally going to crack the 'ice' and have lodged a complaint to the High Court for a hearing in the near future.

Greenpeace has the resources for a sustained legal action that will begin to turn the tide against the use of the planets BLOOD to poison the population and kill all our wildlife.

This hearing could not only pave the way for a future cleaner enviroment, but also start a trend in getting rid of the evil of wars, power dominance and the arms trade. I know it will be a long ardious road, but someone has to be brave enough to buck the sysem and Greenpeace will have the power of the people behind it for that purpose....

demand for oil won,t go till demand for cars go.
Their is no such thing and their never will be such thing as green cars as the electricity will lickly come from fossil fuels.
even the extracting the iron from the ground and the processing would require the use of fossil fuels.
i am curious however that many younger generation japanese are deciding to live a car free lifestyle and are happier and have more peace of mind as a result.A car free lifestyle can also decrease isolation as people meet more often when walking,cycling,and using public transport.by contrast, you are usually alone when in a car.I wonder just why can,t young europeans and americans give up car addiction.

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